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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Blend of Fact and Fiction and Some Wonderfully Descriptive Writing
Sofka Zinovieff's first novel 'The House on Paradise Street' is an engrossing, interesting and warmly convincing story with two narrative voices; one of whose is Maud, wife of Nikitas Perifanis, and the other, Antigone, the estranged mother of Nikitas, and a former freedom fighter who was forced to leave Greece for Russia during the Greek Civil War, and in doing so,...
Published on 11 Mar 2012 by Susie B

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3.0 out of 5 stars Can't get up a lot of enthusiasm
to finish this book! Not particularly well written, flat characters, no atmosphere and yet set in what could be interesting places.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The House on Paradise Street, 26 Sep 2012
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The story of a family whose lives have been torn apart by Greek politics. This made an uncomfortable read, on holiday in Greece, when I realised that maybe the English hadn't been as supportive to the Greeks, at I'd always imagined!By the end of the book I felt I had a better understanding of modern Greek culture.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and informative read, 30 April 2012
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This is a great book which I found difficult to put down. It is meticulously researched and gives the reader a real insight into modern Greek history, in a way that is totally accessible. The characters are well drawn and make you care about what happens to them. For me, it works beautifully as a novel, but also serves as a piece of social history. Made me want to find out more about modern Greece, and to a large extent explains much of what is happening there today. I wish I hadn't read it so quickly, as I'd like to be starting again from the beginning. I'll have to give it a few months before reading again though! If you appreciate an intelligent and beautifully crafted novel, this one is for you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully crafted novel, 3 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
A beautifully written novel that both compels and intrigues. The historical side is fascinating and Sofka cleverly weaves the story together, moving between two different characters from different backgrounds who are ultimately fighting on the same side. The complexities of the past and present come together in a moving, soulful novel that comes straight from the heart.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Can't get up a lot of enthusiasm, 20 Feb 2014
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to finish this book! Not particularly well written, flat characters, no atmosphere and yet set in what could be interesting places.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A cautionary tale, 31 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
This is the second street-name book by Zinovieff and although presented as a work of fiction (where Eurydice Street was based on the author's own experiences of Greece) the two books share a common aim: to educate the British public about modern Greece (beyond the Shirley Valentine caricature). Both books do a great job when seen form this point of view and there is no doubt that Paradise Street is an excellent read.

I must confess however that I am not really characteristic of this intended audience. To me this book reads like many of the stories I grew up with, about my family and our friends. So much so, that after the first few pages I could easily recognize the actual person that has inspired the Nikitas character (and it was no surprise when I later found his name listed in the acknowledgements). This is of course testament to the authors writing skill as well as her meticulous research which is characteristic of all her work.

In any case, I am probably more critical of some of the choices that the author makes in telling her story. Firstly, despite the meticulous research, the dates simply do not add up. Nikitas, the main male character, raised in the Averoff prison during the post war period would most certainly be far too old -- by at least a decade -- to be part of the Polytechnion generation as claimed in the book. Indeed, he would likely be about 40 years older than Maude which makes the whole affair mush less believable.

More importantly, the story is centered around Athens when the vast majority of people and events associated with this period happened in smaller cities and predominantly in villages. Although of course the author is entitled to artistic freedom, in this case her choice reflects the current situation where Athens dominates Greek life but is not representative of the period and to my eyes at least less credible.

As one would expect, this second street-name book also reflects the changing relationship of Zinovieff with Greece, of which she is now presumably a citizen. The lightheartedness and general positive outlook of Eurydice Street has been replaced by a much more critical view, especially evident in the latter chapters and expressed through Maude (for example, her comments about the interpretation of the concept of freedom by modern Greeks). Again, I cannot criticize the point of view, in fact I wholeheartedly agree with these statements, but the outlook is clearly different to the previous book -- much more balanced and indeed much more accurate but also much more bitter.

I would however strongly disagree with the statement that this book has major relevance for those wishing to understand what went wrong in recent years. The events narrated in this book are only the background and certainly Britain has had a role that has rarely been acknowledged. Nevertheless, none of this preordained the destiny of this country and I would argue that it was rather the choices that Greeks made for themselves in the 60s and then again in the 80s and the 90s, that are the real cause. Suggesting otherwise does a considerable disservice to the country and its people.

This is perhaps the most notable difference between this book and the previous one: Zinovieff buys wholesale into the stereotypes and preconceptions of modern Greek society. Although this is perhaps a natural effect of naturalization, from my point of view reproducing these stereotypes serves no good purpose and indeed severely hinders the discussion of the true causes behind the Greek mess. Even more, it rationalizes certain dominant attitudes within Greek society (towards women and foreigners for example) that are simply unacceptable in a modern open and democratic country. And it is this, that I believe to be the main weakness of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book for lovers of Greece and an interest in the Greek character and modern Greek history., 3 Dec 2013
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Trish. NIBLOCK (Edinburgh Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
Sofka Zinovieff is the perfect writer of a book based on fact and based in Greece.

We are there with her. We understand the Greek characters that she describes. We feel the feelings.

A wonderful book and as collectable as " Euradice Street " her previous book

Trish Niblock
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 Oct 2013
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Monika Rose (UK) - See all my reviews
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I have read this book in one sitting. It lives up to previous reviews and I would definitely recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, 3 Oct 2013
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A plot woven round the tragic political events of 20th century Greece. Well done up until the unconvincing last chapter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good read, 24 Aug 2013
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having discovered this author couldn't wait to read this Real page turner but having read her "Eurydice Street" realized should have read it first- but only a small niggle
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Review of the House on Paradise Street by Sofka Zinovieff, 31 July 2013
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Mr. R. Clark - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House on Paradise Street (Paperback)
This beautifully-crafted novel at times made uncomfortable reading, but not once did I want to put it down. Its dark themes reflect the blackest of times in Greece's history and bring into focus the malaise brought about by years of occupation, civil war and political meddling from abroad, which ripped families apart and have left deep scars on this tiny piece of Paradise. This extraordinary, thought-provoking book has given me a much deeper understanding of Greece and its wonderful people, for which I will always be grateful. Richard Clark
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The House on Paradise Street
The House on Paradise Street by Sofka Zinovieff (Paperback - 2 Aug 2012)
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